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Address: 6295 Fourth Line
[NE intersection with Phelan Road]

DESIGNATED

Location: Lot 15, Con 3

Date and Fabric: c 1877; two storey frame

Known owners:

John A. Eastman - 1880
Robert Graham 1880 - 1944
Alex and Clayton Presley 1944 -
Robert Perry Connection currently [1990]

[note that these dates, while roughly accurate, should be regarded as approximate; on the file, they are not supported by a Registry Office search.]

photograph 1997

Other photos on file from 1983, 1982, undated but probably about 1979.

Limited architectural description on file from Herb Laglois, 1983; narrative text which follows based on Michael Way, 1982. See also "Presence of the Past", October, 1983.

Located at the rear of lot 15, concession 3 in the former Township of North Gower is a green- trimmed, white frame house belonging [1983] to Alex and Clayton Presley. Set well back from the Regional Road and partially hidden by trees, the house overlooks the now little-used Phelan Road which divides the farm from the next lot.

The house was probably built around 1877 - 79 by John A. Eastman, a farmer and contractor of Loyalist descent. However, he sold the house and farm shortly thereafter, apparently in order to extricate himself from financial difficulties possibly arising in part from the fact that he may have underestimated his successful tender to build the Anglican Church - see "2372 Church Street".

It is reported that Eastman had a tendency to overspend. He owned two pleasure carriages and more than two hundred dollars worth of farming implements by 1861, when most of his peers were making do with wagons and less sophisticated tools. He also invested more heavily in livestock than other farmers in the area. In addition, he incurred unnecessary expense in order to embellish his farm: the original fence posts used on the farm were all individually turned on a lathe in Osgoode, transported, and then painted white and green to match the house. Such preoccupation with detail must have been not only time-consuming but needlessly costly 35.

The original fence posts have not survived [see footnote], and neither has the original drive that led formally to the front of the house from Phelan Road; it has been replaced by another that approaches less impressively from the Fourth Line. Even so, the building itself retains the key elements that distinguished it from neighboring dwellings: the four nicely proportioned windows that stretch across the first floor of the facade, and the unusual flat transom over the front entrance.

Eastman's buyer was Robert Graham, an elderly gentleman who, although originally from Ireland, had been farming in North Gower for more than thirty years. He paid $5,000 cash, and also assumed a $2,200 mortgage held by the North British Loan and Savings Company. The house remained in the Graham family for the next sixty years. Shortly after the Second World War, it was purchased by the Presleys who lived there and worked the farm until the late 1980's

Evidence supporting the contention that the house was built between 1877 and 1879 is three-fold:

First, the present [1982] owners maintain that it was John Eastman who built the house, and estimate that he did so between 1877 and 1882. This information agrees with other indicators.

Second, the rise in value of the property during the short period Eastman owned it suggests that substantial improvements were made to it during that time. Eastman gradually accumulated ninety-five acres over the seven year period between 1867 and 1874. He purchased three separate parcels of land during this span, of which the most costly was only $800. And yet, when he sold the entire farm in 1880, it brought $5,000 plus a $2,200 mortgage.

Finally, between 1877 and 1879, Eastman mortgaged portions of the farm on three separate occasions. He successfully discharged the first two mortgages, which were for smaller amounts, but the last one had to be assumed by Robert Graham. Eastman obviously had a need for ready cash, and it seems quite possible that the money was used to finance construction of his home.

When taken together, this information suggests that the house dates from between 1877 and 1879 and not from the 1860's, as has been estimated elsewhere. [after Michael Way, 1982]

Designation:

The house was designated by By-law 80/83 of October 3, 1983. Reasons for designation follow:

"This is an extraordinarily well detailed wood frame farmhouse in Classical Revival Style enhanced by features of Gothic Revival design. Accordingly, it is considered to be of architectural interest. Constructed circa 1870 - 77 [sic], this outstanding 11/2 storey residence is distinguished by its handsome moulded eaves, cornerboards and by its front entrance with rectangular transom and sidelights surmounted by a double gable window.

35 So reports our chronicler, who telegraphs his own priorities! Another interpretation would acknowledge that Mr. Eastman may have been a farmer ahead of his time, and credit him with values beyond the merely utilitarian. Some of the fence posts described in this paragraph survived until the 1980's on Phelan Road and along the unused laneway to the house from the south; there is no evidence on file to show whether they were installed by Mr. Eastman or by his successor, Mr. Graham. It seems likely that turned posts were used only in showplace locations, and not throughout the farm.

March, 1990

Table of Contents Explanatory Notes